The University of Pennsylvania chapter of Students for a Democratic Society violently shut down a campus foreign policy discussion forum featuring Central Intelligence Agency director John O. Brennan on Friday afternoon.
“The CIA is a terrorist organization!” protesters shouted, according to The Statesman, a student publication at the Ivy League school.
“Drones kill kids!” and “Black Lives Matter!” the demonstrators also yelled.
The forum crashers also displayed a blue-and-white banner reading “DRONE STRIKES BREED TERRORISM” in large capital letters.
The chaotic scene escalated from there.
When a Philadelphia-born Irishman in the crowd urged the protesters to allow Brennan to speak, a Students for a Democratic Society protester responded by shouting, “Go back to your own country!”
Event moderator Marjorie Margolies, a senior fellow at Penn’s Fels Institute of Government, which organized the event, beseeched the demonstrators to allow Brennan to address their ranting.
Brennan then attempted to continue speaking. He argued that drones are valuable weapons and observed that drone strikes have killed ISIS leaders.
It didn’t take long for the protesters to start up again, though. They next began to chant “No justice, no peace, no US in Middle East!” At this point, they also unfurled a Palestinian flag.
“The CIA are the real torturers!” a protester stood up and yelled, according to The Statesman.
Security personnel, including Brennan’s security detail, intervened.
The guy who was calling America’s civilian foreign intelligence service “the real torturers” continued yelling in the face of a security guard. He eventually ended up in a physical tussle with a couple of guards.
Theodore Ruger, the dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, then tried to calm things down.
“We’ve heard your views. We respect your views,” Ruger implored, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “What you’re doing now is silencing speech.”
Ruger’s efforts failed. The protesters continued.
At about this time, with violence in the air, security personnel began ushering forum attendees out of the Penn Museum at the Harrison Auditorium, where the event was held.
As people were leaving, one forum attendee said, an old woman from the audience stopped a black female protester and criticized her for interrupting the event. The old woman pointed her cane for emphasis. In response, the witness said, the protester ripped the cane from the old lady’s hands and threw it.
“How dare you do that!” the protester yelled, according to the Statesman. “I’m not a slave. You’re not my slave master. You can’t tell me what to do!”
Brennan was ultimately able to speak for less than 20 minutes.
Outside the Harrison Auditorium, members of Penn’s Students for a Democratic Society chapter handed out flyers explaining their reasons for blocking Brennan from speaking.
It’s not clear how many of the protesters representing Students for a Democratic Society were actually Penn students. Many of them were not students.
Penn’s Students for a Democratic Society chapter had advertised their plan to disrupt the school-sponsored forum on Facebook. “PROTEST John Brennan” the Facebook post reads.
People who attended the forum to hear Brennan speak left frustrated.
The cornerstone of our university — and our society — is free expression, mutual respect, and diversity of opinion,” Penn sophomore Nathaniel Rome told The Statesman. “I was disappointed to see some in our community attempt to silence the voice of Director Brennan, a man who has dedicated his career to the service of this country.”
“It ended up like a Trump rally,” another student, Ben Fogel, said.
A Change.org petition posted by “Concerned Students of the University of Pennsylvania” seeks an apology from Penn’s Students for a Democratic Society “for the violent disruption of CIA director John Brennan’s speech.”
Students for a Democratic Society has refused to apologize.
“Penn SDS does not apologize for the disruption of John Brennan’s speech and we are not responsible for the violence that transpired,” the group declared in a Saturday Facebook post. “The petition misrepresents the events of Friday afternoon. Conveniently omitted was the fact that an elderly woman protesting was pushed and harassed by a student. It is also patently false that we were promoting another event; anyone who read the flier would know that it contained purely information explaining our rationale for the action. We also want to clarify that we support the right of Americans to live peacefully in this country. Additionally, we are sickened by the fact that one of our protesters was threatened by a woman with a cane.”
Brennan, an appointee of President Barack Obama, has been the director of the CIA since 2013. Previously, he served as Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor.
The current version of Students for a Democratic Society is a reincarnation of a group which had been active in the 1960s.
Notable members of the old Students for a Democratic Society include Bill Ayers, America’s most spectacularly incompetent and failed terrorist. Ayers was also a Weather Underground member. In 1970, three of his amateurish colleagues died in a Greenwich Village townhouse explosion trying to make a nail bomb. Investigators believed the bomb was going to be used at a dance for non-commissioned officers and their dates on an army base in Fort Dix, N.J.
Ayers is now an overweight, foppish dandy. (RELATED: Terrorist Mars Confab Of Radical Professors At Swanky Resort)